|Cereal and Diabetes|
Your Baby's Diet - Cereal and Diabetes
Babies with a family history of diabetes who were introduced to cereals before the recommended age of four to six months had a higher risk of developing a precursor to diabetes.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the results of two multi-year studies of at risk children, one from the University of Colorado at Denver and the other from the Diabetes Research Institute in Munich, Germany. Both studies found that babies at risk of diabetes who were fed fiber or rice cereals before the recommended age of four months were 4 to 5 times more likely to develop an autoimmune response that destroys islet cells in the pancreas than babies introduced to cereal between 4 and 6 months. The destruction of islet cells, which make insulin and other hormones, is believed to lead to Type I diabetes.
The University of Colorado study also indicated that babies who are not fed cereal until age 7 months or later are also at higher risk for developing this disease precursor.
There are various theories as to reasons for this reaction to fiber and rice cereals. One theory is that in the babies under 4 months, their immature gut reacts to the gluten in cereal with an excessive immune system response. In babies over 6 months with bigger appetites, the reaction may be the body's response to larger amounts of cereal consumed. Another theory is that babies not fed cereal during the critical developmental stage between 4 and 6 months lack important nutrients such as vitamin E and zinc, causing the immune system to overreact.
Caution: JAMA cautions parents not to misconstrue these results as meaning that infant cereals cause diabetes, nor should they be worried about feeding their babies fiber or rice cereals. Cautious interest is the desirable response. They also point out that young children who develop the precursor condition do not always develop diabetes.
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